ARs: Can a referee's pre-game take you "out of your game"?

Discussion in 'Referee' started by Nashvillian, Jun 29, 2005.

  1. Nashvillian

    Nashvillian Member

    Jul 1, 2004
    Isn't it obvious?
    One thing I've been noticing more and more is that long pre-game instructions from referees can take me "out of my game" as an assistant referee.

    I have no problem with reminders and points of emphasis or even things like "Try to call a foul in the first 10 minutes to let the players know you're watching." What is a problem is when a referee has a lot of specific mechanics that are different from the last referee I worked with and different from the way I'm used to doing things.

    When you have to remember that, when the referee is unsure of who the ball touched last and looks to me, "Did this referee want me to point the direction with my hand against my stomach or hold the flag at my side with the proper direction or raise the flag straight up in the proper hand or just go ahead and signal the direction of the throw-in?"

    I'm sure you can add several examples to that.

    I feel that, if a referee's pre-game with assistant referees is more than about three or four points, the referee is probably doing more harm than good; probably slowing down the assistant referees' reaction time by having to remember all the stuff the referee wants them to do for the referee's comfort level.

    Please try to answer this post with your assistant referee "hats" on.
  2. MassachusettsRef

    MassachusettsRef Moderator
    Staff Member

    Apr 30, 2001
    Washington, DC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I could hardly disagree more.

    The most effective pre-games are the longest, most detailed ones--especially when there's give-and-take and questions from the ARs. Remember, most top-flight pre-games last 30+ minutes, and include particular information on teams, individual players, matchups and fouling patterns that might be employed. The more information a CR has as to exactly what he expects of you, the better. I think a longer, more detailed pre-game can build trust, as well. Personally, the best pre-game I've had is from MLS ref Erich Simmons who (at least for USL matches) comes equipped with all the relevant data, news stories and statistics, as well as one of those mini washable soccer boards that coaches use, in order to visually demonstrate potential examples of situations from the match and how he expects us to act.

    Now, if you're specifically talking about CRs that have no clue what they're doing and are asking you to do dozens of crazy things that come out of nowhere, then I do agree you have a problem. But, the length of the pre-game is probably the least of your concerns in those instances.
  3. Claymore

    Claymore Member

    Jul 9, 2000
    Montgomery Vlg, MD
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I've had the exact opposite problem - a long, detailed pre-game followed by a performance from the CR that ignored half of his own instructions. It's rare, but it does happen.

    It's your job as the AR to cover the game exactly as the CR has requested, so the more detail, the better. It may differ from the instructions your received last weekend, but each ref has his/her own method of match management.
  4. Wreave

    Wreave Member

    May 4, 2005
    Colorado Springs, CO
    The length of the pregame should really depend on the level of the game and the level of the referees involved. A 30-minute pregame for MLS is fine. A 15-minute pregame for a U14 club match with three 08 refs is overkill.

    It also strikes me that when pregames get longer than they should be, a lot of the instructions seem to be geared towards making the center look infallible. "If you signal for a foul I didn't see, give a bobwhite whistle, then when we make eye contact, blink once for an offensive foul, twice for a defensive foul outside the PA, three times for a PK. For cards, wiggle both ears". That's what makes it hard.

    I like getting a detailed pregame, and I try to give a pregame as detailed as I think my ARs will stand given their level and the level of the competition. When I'm an AR, the main thing I want to know is whether the CR wants to look omniscient, or whether he knows the teams already know he's human and will accept me calling a foul or giving a throw-in directional.
  5. Ref Flunkie

    Ref Flunkie Member

    Oct 3, 2003
    New Hudson, MI
    I tend to agree with you when it comes to the "standard" calls. If they ask for too much that is just personal preference and has no bearing on the information communicated, then I would probably spend more time thinking about how to pass on the information then actually gathering the information to make the call. However, I must say, I have never run into a referee who is so arrogant and anal, that he tells you the exact mechanics to use for every call you make, especially the standard calls like throw-ins, offside, gk/cks, etc. What IS necessary and useful is them telling ARs how they want us to handle special situations (like if we think a PK should be called, goal keeper encroachment on PKs, fouls behind his back, etc), and this does have the potential to take a long time. This thinking will usually come with plenty of time to think/react without messing up the call (for example, if you see something that should be a PK, you have already made the decision and you simply need to convey that information). You need to know how to communicate with the CR with as few words/actions as possible, and the pre-game is there in order to establish that communication "language". However, the AR does need to have a style of his own, and unless that style somehow passes along bad information or no information (again, for the "standard" calls), then I think the CR should leave it alone.
  6. ref47

    ref47 Member

    Aug 13, 2004
    n. va
    most of what an ar needs is in the 2004 guide to procedures. however, the cr has options open that go with what the cr thinks is/are important. if they want help on their portion of the touchline; if they want a full flag for assistance on direction or something more discreet; amount of involvement on fouls; additional duties on pks, etc.

    i listen. i ask - based on what i usually cover in my pregames.

    in one sense you are correct. fit the pregame to the level of the match. don't anticipate problems that might only come up once in a 1,000 games.
  7. Statesman

    Statesman New Member

    Sep 16, 2001
    The name says it all
    Quality, not quantity. If the information is useful and pertinent then the more the better. If it is pointless drivel then you might as well not have a pre-game. Just do what you can to absorb the information that actually matters and filter out the rest.
  8. tmaker

    tmaker Member

    Nov 24, 2003
    I agree with Stateman, of course, on this point, but I definitely see what Nashvillian is getting at. I've been subjected to numerous dull pre-games in my life that covered--well, everything in the Guide to Procedures. While it's painful for me to listen to, it's probably crucial to a wet-behind-the-ears Grade 8 who doesn't even know the guide exists, much less has read it.

    With referees who know me, the "mechanics" portion of the pre-game is very simple. Usually he/she just says, "Take care of your quadrant and watch my back on a quick counterattack." The rest of pre-game consists of, "Okay, how many yellow cards does this team have at the tournament? Are there persistent offenders? Do they have a target man who draws a lot of fouls in the air? Do they play a tight offside trap?" In other words, all the things that are actually useful in the match.

    As an AR (and I tend to think I'm a good one), I don't need a referee telling me proper game mechanics, unless we need to discuss variations and non-standard signals. Mostly I want him to tell me what he expects, where he needs help, how the game will be managed, etc. It is very much an issue of quality and not quantity.

    As a referee, I generally ask questions of my ARs, rather than give them a laundry list. It simply doesn't do to overload the ARs brain with minutiae. I find out what they can and cannot handle, and adjust accordingly. I like to be thorough, of course, as most referees do, but one has to know the audience, too.
  9. MidwestRef

    MidwestRef New Member

    Feb 8, 2004
    I want more rather than less information from my CR. If there is a specific mechanic (such as the flat hand that I do as the CR to give my intended direction on a throw-in), then I need to know if the CR wants me to go with his signal or if I can deviate if I clearly saw something different.

    If a CR has team information or playing tactics, bring them on! I want as much as I can have to do my job well.

    I've started to e-mail my pre-game instructions to my ARs to give them some time to read them before coming to the field. It's their call as to whether they'll read the instructions, but it can't hurt in a tournament setting or if you know one AR will be at the field close to game time.
  10. NHRef

    NHRef Member+

    Apr 7, 2004
    Southern NH
    A good pre-game is great, a non-existant one is terrible. A good CR should not deviate from clear standard mechanics, but should cover things like how he wants your help under situations. It should be question/answer and should be geared to the ARs experience as well as experience of ANY of the ref team with one or both of the teams playing. It should also cover any weird field conditions for the day, tough to see lines, nets that aren't so good, overly worn paths for the AR to run etc.
  11. Red Star

    Red Star Member

    Jan 10, 2002
    Fayetteville, AR
    Yes, a long pre-game which just covers the same things that I proved I knew when I passed the test just takes me out of the game. It also destroys my respect for the CR. A good pre-game is concise and gives me some credit for actually being an official official. (snicker) If the CR has something different, new or particualr information about the teams, competition or field then good. Also, it is better to do this while we are inspecting the field or just walking around so it doesn't look like I am getting a lecture. If I have to stand at the center of the field while you recite your canned presentation I am going to stop listening pretty quick.
  12. BC_Ref

    BC_Ref New Member

    Jul 18, 2004

    Unfortunately it depends on who you get as an AR. I find many teenaged ARs "tune out" my pregame - which I'm giving to get the basic concepts across of - 1. Stick with the offside line 2. Slow flag for offside 3.keep flag up if offside takes place unless defenders go back to the offense 4. Run (biggest weakness is the seeming unwillingness to run where needed)

    Main reason I'm running through these basic concepts is that they don't follow them. At least in a quarter of my games with ARs, I have to quickly pop over to them 10 minutes into the game and tell them to start running. All too often, I'll be looking for my AR somewhere between the corner and the 18 and can't see them. If I look back, they are even or (often) behind me, so are well out of position.

    With the rare adults, generally it can be - please do X, Y or Z. I run over a few pecularities with corners, free kicks near the goal, etc... Main issue I run over is what I view as handling (we have a definite opinion split locally between strict and loose, so being clear is good.)
  13. Rudy R9

    Rudy R9 New Member

    Aug 12, 2004
    Estadio Azteca
    some refs are to weird with there pre games my motto for pregame is to keep it short and sweet.
  14. brhsoccer14

    brhsoccer14 New Member

    Nov 18, 2004
    Baton Rouge, LA, USA
    I hate being in this generalization! Next time say, I find many teenaged ARs with the exception of Joey (me)..... ;)
    Nah, I'm basically trying to say, not all of us are like that and I hate those who make us like that!

    I like pregames that are detailed and informative as I said in a previous topic not too long ago. It gives me what the center is really looking for from me and his expectations. The game analyses are wonderful. I try to analyze the teams and players for future reference and even as an AR, I will inform a center who might not have had the team or player and tell them what their problem(s) are and what might need to be done to control it. I also look to see who is good which is usually the person that gets targetted for fouls, or at least in the higher level matches.
  15. VaRef

    VaRef New Member

    Feb 2, 2005

    This is a great point that I think we stray from many times, albeit with good intentions. It really is important to keep standard mechanics and not create or use personal nuances/techniques that deviate from them. I don't mean that you should not have additional communication techniques to cover potentially unusual situations, but we should not replace the standard mechanics. The procedures guide gives these standard mechanics for ARs and it really is not appropriate for us to change them. If we do change them to our personal preferred techniques, then we are doing the ARs (and the game) a disservice.

    This reminds me of when I was in the military (tanks) and we had "standard" gunnery commands. If the Tank Commander wanted to engage a target, he could simply say: "Gunner, Sabot, Tank........Fire." This tells the Gunner to lock in Sabot ammunition in the fire selector, to look for a tank target in the sight area - this tells the loader to load Sabot ammunition and clear the recoil area - this tells the driver to level the vehicle in prep for firing, etc - Four simple "standard" words. If any of those crewman got reassigned to a different tank, the commands would be the same, and they could perform.

    Lets dont deviate from standard mechanics, please... :)
  16. Laggard

    Laggard New Member

    May 23, 2001
    Beeswax Noneofyour
    It's rare that I work with a center who will even say hello before the match.

    Must be something in the water here.
  17. LoewenBoy

    LoewenBoy Member+

    Aug 25, 2004
    Giesing, Muenchen
    TSV 1860 München
    Nat'l Team:
    Sint Maarten
    I recently did a game with a FIFA ref as CR and a national ref as the other AR. The FIFA ref's pregame was: "Do what you are trained and paid to do." short and sweet. He did cover some procedural things of which most referees have no clue and give some insight on looking for other things during play, but it was short...not to mention insightful. Was a real pleasure working with him.

    My biggest problem with long a pregame is the restating of the obvious. Not many, but some, see it as a place to pontificate. I appreciate a detailed pregame that discusses important issues for the officiating crew. I don't like another, sometimes junior, CR treating us like we can't manage a U13 game without his/her directions. A bigger problem in the US than in Germany, I have found.
  18. Crowdie

    Crowdie New Member

    Jan 23, 2003
    Auckland, New Zealand
    In New Zealand referees are taught to describe what they want from their ARs by working around the field:

    On a goal kick...
    On a corner kick....
    On a throw in...
    On a substitution...
    Trouble in the technical area....

    This leads to some consistency in the pre-match discussion from referee to referee. What I find defers from referee to referee are the levels where they play on, play advantage and award a free kick. I find that if I haven't officiated with the referee before it takes a few calls from the referee to work these levels out so that I keep my calls consistent with his/hers.
  19. Rudy R9

    Rudy R9 New Member

    Aug 12, 2004
    Estadio Azteca
    That for me is to long... I have never refed with fifa refs only with national refs people tell me my poteential as a ref is to be a national one day but i want to be a fifa ref this will only happen if i dont turn pro. Turning pro for me is better than the reffing game. I mostly ref for the money very few times is it fun. It is harder for me as a ref b/c at first the parents dont respect me because i am only 5'4 and i am 15 yrs of age.
  20. Rudy R9

    Rudy R9 New Member

    Aug 12, 2004
    Estadio Azteca
    Here where i am from refs are usually very friendly...
  21. Crowdie

    Crowdie New Member

    Jan 23, 2003
    Auckland, New Zealand
    I have a lot of respect for very young referees as refereeing at that age can be very difficult.

    I am not sure if it gets any better when you get older :D

    Seriously, you develop selective hearing as you get more experienced so you notice it less. That said, if a spectator says something that you find offensive there are ways to have that spectator removed - you don't have to tolerate abuse from spectators.
  22. Chubbywubby

    Chubbywubby Member

    Apr 11, 2004
    Denver, CO
    Kevin Stott is not much taller, but the power of his presence can fill a stadium. One of our best-loved local emeritus refs, until his recent retirement, was a 5'2" 60+ year old Scotsman.
  23. Bill Archer

    Bill Archer BigSoccer Supporter

    Mar 19, 2002
    Washington, NC
    Columbus Crew
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I repeated this incident in this forum a couple of years ago and it provoked some interesting comments. To say the least.

    I apologize to those of you who've heard this story before, but it's germane so here goes:

    I got called to work a very important tournament by an assignor I had worked for and with for years. I played in college, I've been a ref for a long time and although I'm pretty solidly middle-aged I'm in pretty decent shape. Mostly I ref for fun (????) and because I love the game.

    Anyway, the assignor knew me very well and put me on the U17 and U18 top bracket. I showed up and the two guys I'm working with are both mid-twenties fast-track, hotshot national program blah, blah, blah.

    The center for the first game looks at me and is horrified. He figures me for a rec league dad they scraped up from somewhere. So he says to me "The other AR is someone I've worked with before and we're OK. Because I don't know you, I don't want to you do anything without looking at me first". He proceeds to show me little hand signals he'll use to let me know which way to call throwins, end-line balls into touch, fouls, and a special signal allowing me to call offside.

    I came very close to handing him the flag and telling him what to do with it, but I didn't think that would be appropriate and so I worked the game, ignoring the center completely. I worked it like I'd work any other game. At the half he tried to get in my face about "just whose game you think this is" but the other AR (his pal) told him that I had called it perfectly and he had no complaints.

    He got his revenge at the end when one of the coaches came up to argue an offside call I made off a throwin. The thrower's teammate had jumped at it and slightly deflected it with his head (it was no more than ten feet in front of me) and although it was not obvious it did happen and when the ball sailed on to a guy in an offside position I popped the flag. Righteous call.

    So when the coach comes up to gripe about the call, the center says "I'm sorry sir; that was a terrible call by my linesman, who didn't know the rule, apparently"

    THAT was when I packed up and walked. There was a big stink afterwards, with the center then claiming I had "abandoned the field" but to his credit his buddy backed me up completely, writing that the guy had made it "impossible" for me to continue.

    For pregame instructions, "don't do anything" would seem to be as far out as it gets.
  24. Red Star

    Red Star Member

    Jan 10, 2002
    Fayetteville, AR
    Unfortunately I find that the length and quality of the pregame discussion (or lecture) to be determined by who you get as a CR. Since your approach doesn't seem to be working try Plan B. Maybe don't lecture about things that they are expected to know and instead discuss things that are unique to you or this situation. I find that teenagers have an amazing capacity to "tune out" things that they consider boring or condescending. I have also found that treating them with respect and engaging them as part of a team can really get them going in a positive way. Instead of assuming that they are incompetent assume that they are competent. If you still need to remind them during the game it sounds like you were going to do that anyway so you are no worse off.

    Something like "I know that you are all well trained and that working together we can give these teams a great game. You know what do so I won't bore you with that. There are a few things that we need to discuss in advance so that we can work well together..."

    If your AR's are tuning you out and not working up to your expectations try a different approach. Just a suggestion.

    Bill, you should have just sat down with the spectators at the beginning of the match and enjoyed the chaos that the CR asked for. No point in doing all that standing up and running for no reason. So did the CR wave off the offside and let the goal stand? Or did he agree with the call and blow his whistle?
  25. Rudy R9

    Rudy R9 New Member

    Aug 12, 2004
    Estadio Azteca
    Yeah i do not tolerated abuse from spectators. I have had a few coaches kicked out. So far no spectators though...

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